Mumford & Sons: Delta
review by reese gorman
It's been three years since we last heard the raspy voice of Marcus Mumford on a new track. The cynical band that is Mumford & Sons has always been up against the press and the public. Constantly being berated for not being "folky" enough, or being too mainstream, they have had to deal with a lot of criticism. With the release of "Delta" their most personal and lyrically sound album yet, they seemed to have shut up some of the critics while enticing others to continue to be critical.
The main critique of this album wasn't about the lyrics or the songs in general, it was about the overall style of the album. Going away from their classic acoustic, unplugged style and more towards an electric, synth-driven beat. Not in any way making it a pop song but more electronic driven. In an interview with The Guardian, they said in their previous albums they wrote it on the road "with whatever we had to hand," Mumford said. "And most of the time, what we had to hand were acoustic instruments." Now that they had time off and access to more advanced equipment, they decided to evolve their sound.
This new sound is clearly evident in their opening track "42." The underlying beat that travels throughout the whole song was created via synth. Telling the story of a heartbreak and asking questions about the feelings he's experiencing in this time. Lyrics such as "Where do I turn to when there's no choice to make?" and "What if it turns out there is no other?" gives this deeply emo feel that we're not used to when it comes to Mumford & Sons.
Mumford gave a name to what the songs deal with, stating that all of them fit into four categories known as "The four D's: death, divorce, drugs, and depression." The darkness behind each song allows the listener to relate and feel what Mumford is feeling. It's pleasing to hear a folk band sing about real issues and reveal to the world the dark and real side of life as opposed to the upbeat happy side.
Mumford's predecessors Simon & Garfunkel embraced this concept very well. Songs such as "The Boxer" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water" talk about deep issues and get very graphic about the issues one faces through-out life.
"Beloved" is the strongest song both musically and lyrically on the album. Singing about the death of his grandmother, which he was present for, Mumford pours out his soul into this song while he recounts the experience. Putting a traumatic experience, such as this, into words and then releasing it for millions of people to hear takes a special kind of talent. How does one even gather up the words to write about the death of a loved one? My favorite lyric of the album comes from this song "She says the Lord has a plan, but admits it's pretty hard to understand" the vulnerability placed into those lyrics is touching.
Behind the folkie facade of this album lies a dark, gothic core to their songs. Lyrics such as "Our love will slowly die" from "Forever" gives a sense of realness to their songs. As dark as they may come across this stuff is real. Life is not happy all the time, it's hardships and struggles and Mumford has really embraced that on this album.
Amongst all the criticism and the jeering, Mumford gave us an album we can appreciate for all of time. Embracing the realities of life and evolving their sound to allow for a darker melody, each song seems to complement the next. This isn't the Mumford & Sons we asked for but it's the Mumford & Sons we needed.